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Guide Issued for Tying Primary Care to Regional Organizations

MONDAY, June 24 (HealthDay News) -- The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has developed a new guide to help primary care practices to assess readiness for connecting electronic health records (EHRs) to regional health information organizations (RHIOs).

Dewey Scheid, M.D., M.P.H., from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City, and colleagues developed the guide to connect primary care to local health information exchange (HIE) hubs and RHIOs via EHRs.

According to the authors, HIE hubs mobilize health care information electronically across health care organizations. HIE systems can increase the participation of multiple providers in a patients' continuity of care and allow providers to save time, effort, and money. The guidelines address all aspects of connecting an EHR to a RHIO, including assessing readiness, setting up appropriate technology, and sustaining use of an HIE. The guide is relevant to different audiences, including practice leaders, information technology staff, and practice personnel.

"The lack of a convincing value proposition for providers has been a major barrier to use of RHIOs," the authors write. "Although there appears to be a net societal potential benefit of investing in sharing information between different health care organizations, the return on investment for individual medical practices is less certain. Apart from capital expenses and fees, medical practices must adapt their workflow so they can benefit from the RHIO technology."

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